Posted: March 8, 2012 by chelsiehinck in Uncategorized

“Probably no male human being is spared the terrifying shock of threatened castration at the sight of the female genitals.” — Sigmund Freud, “Fetishism”

Vaginal penetration is the most common form of sexual assault in the world.

Rape statistics are extremely hard to accurately come by on a global scale simply because reporting and recording of attacks is unreliable. What is known is how prevalent the act happens, and how difficult it is to respond to in terms of “punishment” and law enforcement. That is where devices like the Rape-aXe theoretically become useful.

To clarify before I begin, rape is a risk for every person, not just people who identify as women. For the explanation of this device, gender binary will be used.

The Rape-aXe was created by Dr. Sonnet Ehlers in an effort to give back some power to women in a situation that many times leaves them powerless. The mission statement on this products website says:

 Governments all over the world still show little commitment to the fight for gender equality and women’s rights. Women and girls have long been targeted due to their standing and value in patriarchal societies.  Gender based violence appears to be acceptable, in fact many violated victims are brain washed into believing that this type of violence is acceptable. In this day and age there are communities where practices such as virginity testing, female genital mutilation, child marriages, arranged impregnations and then forced marriage are practiced. My mission is to highlight the plight of these women and give them the choice! source

This is what the Rape-aXe looks like this: And works, according to the product website, like this:

The Rape-aXe system consists of a latex sheath, which contains razor-sharp barbs. The device is worn in her vagina like a tampon. When the attacker attempts vaginal penetration the barbs attach themselves to the penis, causing great discomfort.

So, theoretically this device is meant to latch onto the penis of a rapist causing great trauma to the attacker and forcing the person to have the device SURGICALLY REMOVED in order to regain use of their penis. They can’t even pee with the device on according to the website, so I am assuming this hurts like a bitch and would need to be removed ASAP.

The thought then is that the rapist would be identified… by the clamped spikes stuck in his penis… and brought to justice in a swift way. How it works in video format:

To me, this product screams victim blaming. It was first released in South Africa–where rape statistics are astronomical— during the World Cup for free, but is set to be released on market for about $2 a pop. Some medical personal and feminists have rushed to praise this device as a way for rape victims to finally fight back against their attackers. Bring justice to a situation that is unjust and allow for women to feel like they can be in a position of power once again. This is all fine and commendable… to an extent.

Let’s say now in South Africa, hypothetically, a woman goes out without a Rape-aXe in. She gets raped. The attacker isn’t identified because rape is so prevalent and he doesn’t have a device sticking out of his penis in need of medical attention. What will people say? “She should have used a Rape-aXe.” It’s unfortunate and utterly victim blaming but it’s true. Women have just assumed more responsibility to not get raped. Never mind teaching men to not rape. Never mind using some sort of device for men if they think they might rape someone when they go out. Women must assume responsibility for their sexual health or no one will. That is the message this device sends. Wear “Rape-aXe” or run the risk of being raped and not catching the man who did it.

That’s only problem one. Rape is a crime of power. It has almost nothing to do with the act of sex itself and is formulated around the idea of control over another person. If a person capable of rape is attacked by their victim how likely is it that they will not inflict more bodily harm onto them?

  • In 29% of rape cases, the offender used a weapon e.g. a fire-arm barrel, a broken bottle or even a knife.
  • 75% of rape victims require extensive medical care after the attack

These facts are again straight from this products website, yet the possible further endangerment women face upon using this device is never addressed. While the Rape-aXe does harm to the rapist, will it lead to further abuse endured by the victim?

Beyond both of these arguments, I can say with years of experience that tampons are not comfortable to wear. The idea of a plastic device the size of a tampon in my vagina doesn’t seem appealing or comfortable. This device is meant to be worn in any situation in which a woman may be raped. If you are consistently living in fear that would mean consistently being in discomfort with a reminder that you could be a victim. Not to mention, what if this thing breaks INSIDE OF YOU?! Shards of razor-sharp barb being removed from a vagina seems almost impossible, if not resulting in a major surgery.

I commend Dr. Sonnet Ehlers on creating a device that can be purchased over the counter for women that feel they are at risk of rape in their everyday lives. The aid it provides in catching rapists is unquestionable. It just seems to me like another tool for making women responsible for protecting themselves from rape, and while the thought of shards of barb being hooked into a penis might be enough to dissuade some men from committing rape it doesn’t address the problem at hand– that rape exists and it isn’t the victims fault.

What do you think? Would you use this device? Do you think  it perpetuates victim blaming?

As always, thanks for reading.


  1. The potential for victim blaming with this device is a great insight. I had never considered that, but I agree with you. In terms of the potential for a rapist to inflict harm beyond the initial rape, I just wonder how painful the device is. It looks excruciating. Is it not painful enough to temporarily disable the attacker? If it debilitated the rapist when he first began, that could prevent him from furthering the attack. But that just depends on how much it hurts, I guess?

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